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The Real Story at New Media Expo Wasn’t About New Media

The goodie bag I was given when I checked in at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas contained a hard cover copy of “Renegades Write the Rules—How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate,” by Amy Jo Martin. Nice touch.

Of course, with the frenetic pace of the event, I never had time to get into it.

Anyway, over the three days I spent at the conference, I was trying to sniff out a theme for this article. The topics read like your usual new media menu: blogging, podcasting, web video, ecommerce, tools and social media.

Nothing theme-worthy so far. And though the name of the conference begins with the word “new,” very little of what I saw and heard struck me as new.

So here I sit, desperately themeless, on the 14th floor of the Rio Resort waiting for my $20 chicken sandwich to arrive.

It’ll come. Not the sandwich, the big idea.

I review my notes. Not feeling it. I review what had to be the most massive Twitter stream since somebody famous did something stupid. I’m drawing blanks. My #NMX roundup is starting to resemble Seinfeld’s and Costanza’s concept for a TV show: a show about nothing.

I open Amy Jo’s book.

I don’t know who wrote the passage on the book’s paper sleeve. Amy Jo? Wiley (the publisher)? Shaq Daddy? (The big guy credits the author for the Twitter education he got when the Phoenix Suns wrote Martin’s and O’Neal’s checks.) But there it is, in the last paragraph:

People want to be heard, to be involved, to be entertained, to be adventurous, to be informed. With “Renegades” you will learn how to apply the basic law of social media success: Humans connect with humans, not logos.

Bless you Amy.

Social media is not the story.

We don’t have conferences about the telephone or the microphone or word processors. Do we? Why do we worship social media? It’s not Facebook we’ve come to talk about. It’s me, you and the other 7 billion humans longing to connect.

“The goal is not to be good at social media, but to be good at business because of social media.”

Jay Bear Barry FeldmanThat’s Jay Baer of Convince and Convert talking. More to come on Jay. He shared his wisdom in a great session and then gave me another 30 minutes of his time in an interview. He’s a human. I’m a human. We connected. That’s why we came to NMX. That’s what makes new media meaningful. Actually, it’s what makes anything meaningful. 

As real as it gets. 

A “TM” follows the line above. It’s the slogan of the UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (registration mark). I don’t care for the sport. So when their president, Dana White, took the stage for a keynote interview session, I was thinking “I don’t care what he has to say.”

Apparently 2.3 million Twitter users do. And now, I do too.

Dana totally gets it, more so than all the commissioners of all the other pro sports put together.He said:

“My Twitter is to talk to fans. I’m not going to sell shit through Twitter.”

 Dana says the UFC is very engaged with their fans. They are “fan friendly.”

He also says Twitter helps him run his business better. He doesn’t just know his audience. He’s their friend.  He’s as real as it gets because he’s not just the wealthy dude who turned the desperately broke UFC into a gazillion dollar brand. He’s a human who connects with humans.

Some human sound bites…

I realize it now. In one way or another, everything I took note of at NMX had something to do with this human connection theme. Check out a few zingers…

 “The more often you reach out, the more often people reach in.”~ Bill Belew, giving a lesson on getting a million visitors to your blog

“People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”~ Scott Monty of Ford talking about the importance of engaging with your customer

“The best content comes from you. It has to have your soul in it for people to want to consume it.”~ C.C. Chapman, author of Content Rules and Amazing Things Will Happen (and an A+ character)

“Why do we buy from Bob the baker? We have a relationship with Bob. It’s not B2B or B2C, it’s P2P, person to person”.~ Chris Ducker, teeing up a talk about creating content more efficiently

“Find a big enough stage. Choose the right song. Perform your heart out.”~ Jon Morrow, delivering the 3 steps to making your content go viral

“Our opportunity is to create community, not a monologue.”~ Leo Laporte explaining why new media is so much more engaging than old media

Introducing a “friend of mine.”

Those who got up early to take in Jay Baer’s super session heard him speak about “Youtility.” He’ll be doing that quite a bit this year. It’s the title of his upcoming book.

Though it will be a few months before the book is published, Jay’s not feeling the need to be hush-hush about the lesson it contains. He says: “If you sell something you get a customer today, but if you help someone you create a customer for life.”

He says all kinds of good stuff because his hyperactive brain doesn’t dwell on how we connect. It focuses on why. Jay presents a concept that explains in this never-ending battle for our time and space, we give it up to our friends.

Baer presented a 3-word plan for 2013: strategy, resources and segmentation and I asked him to expand on the third one. Jay responded:

“You need to master segmentation… What I mean by that is we seem to get caught in the this sort of tractor beam where just because a social network exists our company has to participate in it. Such as, a lot of people are on Pinterest, so we’ve got to have a Pinterest program.”

“What we’ve been thinking a lot about on the consulting side of Convince and Convert is if you’re doing the same thing, saying the same thing, uploading the same pictures to all these social networks, what’s the point? Why bother?”

“I think what we have to get to is a coherent segmentation strategy. Businesses of all sizes—including mine because I don’t have it all quite figured out yet either—but I’m going to, for damn sure.”

“Every business should say this is the audience I’m trying to communicate to in a social network. This is the content I’m putting out in this social network and here’s how I’m going to measure the effectiveness of this social network.“

I asked Jay to explain to you an idea he presented about how the competition for your time, your space, and your eyeballs is your family, friends and the companies that want to relate to you.

“It’s sort of unprecedented really. It has big ramifications for business. If you think about your Facebook feed or your Twitter feed or your email inbox or your Pinterest feed or whatever, it’s almost invariably a synthesis of personal and professional relationships. The example I use in the presentation is my Facebook feed. And at the time that I grabbed the screen shots, it was friend, company, spouse, company—in that order. And that’s really pretty typical. So what’s happening is that businesses, really for the first time ever, are being forced to compete for attention, side by side, pixel by pixel, against our closest friends and family members. That’s a tough bar.”

“I wrote an article a little while back called “Is Your Company More Interesting than My Wife?” That’s the premise. So if you’re not, especially if you think about the way EdgeRank works on Facebook, if you’re not more interesting than my wife, I won’t even see your content, much less be able to interact with it.”

“The converse is not true. Consumers, people, friends and family members don’t have to compete with businesses for attention. My mom’s not buying print ads and my wife’s not buying radio time, but the opposite is true. Businesses are having to duke it out in this same battlefield. Think about this way. What’s really interesting about social media and content marketing is that for the first time ever, businesses are using the exact same tools that consumers are using to communicate.”

I interjected,  “So you’re saying if I want to you pay attention to me as a business, I need you to become my friend.” Jay’s answer:

“Exactly. And what are friendships based on? Trust and being useful, which is why Youtility, I believe, is the first big umbrella marketing concept for the age of real time information. Because it’s not about promotion now. It’s about information.”

“There are friends you hang out with because you share a love for sports. These are the people we got to dinner with. These are the people we go to concerts with. These are the people we come to conferences with. That’s how our friendships are segmented and our business relationships need to be segmented the same way. These are the guys we use to learn how to tie knots. These are they guys we use to learn how to buy a car seat. It’s the same premise.”

And this brought us to what Jay calls “friend of mine” marketing.

“You have three categories of marketing. You have top of mind awareness, which has been around forever. You have frame of mind awareness, which is inbound marketing, which is I’m in the mood to buy something and I’m going to look for something, and now you have friend of mine awareness, which is that if we have this relationship, which is based on trust and based on usefulness, you as a consumer will keep those companies close, the same way you keep your real friends and family members close.”

Again, we weren’t talking about social media. We were talking about people connecting with each other. That’s the real story here.



Join The Conversation

  • FeldmanCreative's picture
    Jan 10 Posted 4 years ago FeldmanCreative

    I probably shouldn't have said companies compete for your time, so much as your trust. It's not a flawed strategy, but maybe slightly underexplained here. "Youtility" will come out in a few months. Jay will make it very clear why being useful and trustworthy equates to the relationships that result in loyal customer relationships. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  • Jan 10 Posted 4 years ago vniven

    It's hard to argue with Jay's optimistic view of what our social relationships could evolve into, once we learn to use the media correctly. 

    But competing for time against your customer's friends and family is a flawed strategy. And this is how it will be as long as brands post into the same streams as everyone else. 

    Besides, I don't think it's even possible for brands to become long-term friends with more than a small number of their customers in social media. At least, not using the tactics we use today (content marketing, brand advocacy, influencers, etc.).  

    I say this because our personal streams already contain way more content than we can consume! Today we are ALREADY being forced to choose between engaging with our real friends or with brands.  Or in Facebook's case, they are forced to make this trade-off for us - using EdgeRank.

    This problem is going to get worse.  We forget how many brands touch our lives every year - easily in the hundreds per person. And we forget how early we are in business use of social media. Most companies haven't really ramped up their content marketing & "friending" efforts.  What happens to our streams when they do?

    Here's a recent post I wrote about this issue: 

    Why I Won’t Follow Your Brand in #SocialMedia – And What You Can Do About It 

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